08/06/2013 05:21 EDT | Updated 10/04/2013 05:12 EDT

TransRockies Challenge Teaches Quest 888 Some Tough Lessons

Martin Parnell

TransRockies Quest 888 had reached a critical juncture. I had completed one road running race, two ultra trail running races, one road bike race and covered 297 kms towards my total of 888 kms. It was now time for my first mountain bike race. This was a bit of an issue as I'm not a mountain biker.

The fifth event was the TransRockies Challenge and the event brochure stated "In 2002, the first TransRockies mountain bike race rolled out of Fernie, BC bound for Canmore, Alberta nearly 600km and 7 riding days away. Roughly 100 pioneers rode out into the unknown in North America's original multi-day epic mountain bike race. At the time, they couldn't know that the TransRockies would change the face of mountain biking in North America, spawning a host of multi-day epic imitators and attracting thousands of competitors from all around the World."

This would be an extremely difficult challenge for me. There are two events that run concurrently, the TR7 and TR4. The first three stages of the TR7 took place on July 27, 28 and 29th in Fernie, B.C. On July 30th, the venue then switched to Blairmore. This was where a group of us joined the TR7 competitors for the final four stages. Stages 4 and 5 were in the Blairmore area and we then were all shuttled to Kananaskis country for stages 6 and 7, finishing in Canmore.

Before the event, due to the weather and commitments to the other TransRockies events, I had not trained as much as I had hoped. In mid June I took a lesson with Rhys Ellis, coach of the Canada Olympic Park mountain bike academy. He gave me some good tips which I had applied during the 24 hours of Adrenalin, at the Canmore Nordic Centre in mid-July. However this small amount of riding did not prepare me for what was to come.

The trails in and around Blairmore and Kananaskis are incredibly beautiful, but also incredibly tough. I spent most of my time pushing my bike up these washed out paths. The term the racers use is "hike-a-bike" and even some of the top riders had to get off once in a while and push. The scary thing is going down these paths. On Stage 1 my shins and knees took a beating due to several falls. Fortunately I had brought along some knee protectors and soccer shin guards which I used on the next three stages. My bike is a 2002 Gary Fisher Sugar plus 4. It was the oldest bike there and compared to the other bikes, many of which were carbon fibre, was a bit of an anchor.

Over the four days I managed to ride/push my bike 132 kms. This brings my total kms to date to 429 almost half way to the target. TransRockies Quest 888 has road and trail running and road and mountain biking. There's no question that the mountain biking is the biggest challenge. The reason is the technical and physical ability needed to overcome the arduous challenges on the trails. I will need to work on both of these aspects as the 10th and last TransRockies event is a three day mountain bike race in Moab, Utah in mid October. I will need to compete in this event in order to give myself the opportunity of hitting my target of 888 race kms for Quest 8.

The good news is that so far TransRockies Quest 888 has raised $29,700 for Right To Play towards the target of $50,000.

Now that's worth pushing a bike for.

TransRockies Challenge